It is well... with my soul. One of my favorite childhood hymns has only become more precious over these past few months. The story behind Horatio Spafford penning these words has always moved me to tears. The loss of his first son, financial ruin through the Great Chicago fire, and then reading the words, "Saved alone..." from his wife after their four daughters died while crossing the Atlantic Ocean would be more than enough devastate any man. Yet while crossing over the area where his daughters may have died, he wrote these words, "When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul."
Even though I can relate so little to the loss this man went through, his words have brought me comfort as I have grieved and dealt with my own battles over the last several months. I would have said it all began on the day we literally moved from our house in NC, but I can look back now and see it started weeks before. Moving has always been one of the most stressful experiences in my life. It was only two years ago that we moved houses. Then to realize we were moving again, but this time far from everything we'd grown to love, all our friends and family, the area our girls were born in, and all they had ever known. It was hard. In an effort to savor every moment we could with friends and special places, we went nonstop, sometimes meeting up with 2-3 families a day, all while trying to pack and move states.
I was exhausted by the time we drove those two vehicles away from our quiet neighborhood in Willow Spring. On only a few hours of sleep, at least 3 cups of coffee, I followed Marty in our van towards my parents house where we planned to stay for the night before continuing to SC. However, after about an hour into the drive, I began struggling to catch my breath. I sipped my water, ate snacks to help me stay awake, prayed, but I couldn't shake whatever it was. I called Marty, asked him to pray, and to keep an eye on me in case I had to pull over. I became fearful that I would faint as I had a childhood history of fainting. The farther I drove the more anxious I became. As we pulled up to a stoplight, I knew I was about to pass out, so I quickly pulled in the turn lane and prayed the light would turn green. I was able to pull off and Marty quickly turned around. Broken out in a cold sweat, I couldn't drive any farther. We called my parents and they came and drove my van on to their house. Thinking it was just too much coffee, too little sleep, and too much stress, I dismissed it until the following morning when I became terrified to drive. My chest would hurt, my breathing became labored, and my fears literally debilitated me.
We left half of our belongings at my parents and drove on to SC. After a restful weekend at an Air B&B in Charleston and our first Sunday at our new church, I assumed I would be back to normal. The following Tuesday, we were moved in to our new home (thanks to some amazing new friends), so I thought the girls and I could drive over to Target and pick up a few things we needed. Marty drove us to church so he could get some work done and we would come back and pick him up when we were finished. But as I drove, I had one panic attack after another. I could not leave the island and had to stop three times before making it back to the church. I was devastated! I felt embarrassed, ashamed in front of my girls, and honestly fearful for the future. The anxiety over the next week or two only escalated and depression set in. My mom was able to come spend the week with us, so I would have someone to drive the younger two girls and I around since Marty and Chloe had to go to camp. More friends (old and new) came over the next few weeks and brought such comfort. I tried everything naturally that I could think of. Finally, I went to the doctor where she confirmed that I most likely did have a panic attack on the day of our move, and she was able to prescribe something to help for the time being. I still struggled though.
This is just small excerpt from my journal: "Every morning as depression hits hard, even last night in the midst of another panic attack, I pray. Marty prays. I struggle to catch my breath and my heart beats rapidly. Stress hits everyone in different ways. It's debilitated me from driving, now even riding in a car. I fear the medicine isn't working." In the midst of my struggles, my girls were hurting too. They missed their friends so much, even though they were trying so hard to make the most of it.
Praise God, I am getting better and driving more and more each day! I am still taking my prescription, a bunch of supplements and vitamins, and lots of essential oils, but every time the anxiety rises, I've been able to get through it. I've had some incredible ladies who I've been completely honest with and have prayed with me through this time. My girls have been so patient with me, encouraging me with each drive. My parents provided a haven of rest when I was at an all time low. My amazing husband... I can't say enough. His patience, his selfless love, his kindness when he could have complained. While moving can often bring the most tension to a marriage, this move has only brought us closer together. Once again, I praise God! Truly, to Him be the glory from all of this. When you're at the bottom, you can only look up. He has taught me so much through His Word, through crying out in prayer when I was hopeless, and through the encouragement of others. Already, He has given me opportunities to pray over the lives of others who deal with similar issues.
So, I say all this not to ask for a pity party, but to ask for prayer. People see the pictures of where we live and marvel over its beauty. How blessed we are! Yet behind every picture, it may not be as it seems. Behind every picture is a mama fighting, fighting to feel better, fighting to be normal again, and fighting to settle where God has placed us.
Through this experience, there were times that I felt alone in this battle, thinking that I was the only one who experienced such anxiety. Yet I continue to hear of others, both men and women, who have experienced the exact feelings and struggles I did. If you ever struggle with this kind of anxiety, know that you're not alone. Reach out to someone, be honest with your loved ones, even if they don't understand, and seek healing.
"Forget the former things: do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19